Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Parent Tutoring: A Meta-Analysis

Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Parent Tutoring: A Meta-Analysis

Article excerpt


This article provides a synthesis of research in which parents provided academic instruction to their own children. The effectiveness of parent tutoring in 37 studies was examined across grade level, basic skill area (e.g., reading, math), training feature (e.g., treatment length, availability of consultation), treatment fidelity, type of assessment (i.e. criterion-referenced or norm-referenced), and whether or not the study was published. Thirty-two comparisons were found for 20 group design studies and 25 comparisons were found for 17 single subject design studies. Separate analyses were conducted for group design and single-subject design studies using standardized mean difference between experimental and control groups, and percentage of non-overlapping data (PND), respectively. Effect size (ES) and PND were generally positive across both types of studies. A mean weighted ES of +0.55 was obtained for trimmed group design studies and a median PND of 94 was obtained for the single subject studies. Most studies involved reading and the use of primary grade students as subjects. Certain treatment characteristics appeared to moderate outcome. Implications of the current analysis for future practice and research in the area of parent tutoring are discussed.

KEY WORDS: parent tutoring, parent involvement, meta-analysis, instruction


Parents of every socioeconomic class and educational level have expectations for their children to be successful in school but often do not know how to assist with school work or foster a positive attitude toward learning (Epstein, 1988). Schools need to work with families to improve the home learning environment and educators must initiate this involvement (Christenson, 1990). An extensive literature review by Christenson, Rounds, and Gorney (1992) identified five malleable family and home environmental factors impacting student achievement: parent expectations and attributions, structure for learning, home affective environment, discipline, and parent involvement. The latter was broadly defined to include various activities involving parents in the educational process at home and at school. Using a framework provided by Epstein (1987), five types of parent involvement were presented: basic support for the child as a learner; school-home communications; involvement at school; involvement in decision making, governance, and advocacy; and involvement in learning activities at home (Christenson et al., 1992). The focus of this article is on learning activities at home.

Traditionally, the primary method for schools to directly involve parents in the development of their children's academic skills is through monitoring homework. In this capacity, the family's role is mostly passive (e.g., arranging for a suitable place to work, reducing distractions, and enforcing starting times). Harris (1989) completed a meta-analysis of 20 homework studies completed since 1962. The average high school student in a class doing homework outperformed, as measured by standardized tests and grades, 69% (ES of +0.50) of students in a non-homework class. Homework had half this impact for junior high students and no impact for elementary students. The amount of homework and its impact on achievement was found to vary by grade level. Achievement continued to improve with increasing amounts of homework up to at least two hours per evening for senior high students and up to one to two hours per evening for junior high students. There was no relationship between amount of homework and achievement for elementary students. A few studies explored the impact of parental involvement with homework, but results were equivocal. Moving beyond supervision and facilitation of homework, parents can be asked to provide more direct instruction to their children. When parents utilize specific tutoring skills and are given appropriate materials and feedback, they can have a positive impact on their children's academic success (Fantuzzo, Davis, & Ginsburg, 1995; Gang & Poche, 1982; Koven & LeBow, 1973). …

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